Autism: Focus on the Abilities, Not the Disabilities

Autism: Focus on the Abilities, Not the Disabilities

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As parents of children with Autism, we often hear the negatives of our children. For example, when we attend the IEP meeting, most of the time can often be spent in the aspect of what our child is still not doing and accomplishing yet. Over time we hear the disabilities often enough, or the negative aspects, and we begin to have this negative connotation about our child’s ability. Our outlook on life becomes more negative.

My dear friends, let us gather together and focus on the abilities that our children do have! Autism is such a beautiful thing! The way these individuals think, the way they can see things in life that others cannot, it is such a beautiful and unique outlook. Such an ability to have that others simply struggle with!

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May I please challenge you to find times throughout the week to sit down and meditate on the many abilities that your child does have. Be thankful for those abilities and use them to build character for your child.

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Some parents have told me they struggle to find abilities in their child. This is always heartbreaking for me. I encourage those parents to make a goal each day for two weeks to find one strength, ability, or special thing about their child; at the end of those two weeks you will hopefully have 14 amazing things about your child that you can then focus on!

Share these abilities with your child’s team at school. Use these abilities to strengthen your child’s learning environment, activities, social interaction, etc. Help your child to become a better person because of their ability, not become less because of their disability.

Above all, love your child for who he or she is. We are all made different and uniquely. So let us celebrate all of who we are and emphasize the abilities of what we can do!

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Jen Edwards, LMHCA

Counselor and Behavior Therapist

Jen@BeautifulAutism.com

Autism and Going Back to School: A Must Read for Teachers and Parents

Autism and Going Back to School: A Must Read for Teachers and Parents

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I taught school off and on over eleven years. I am also a parent of a child with Autism. So one could say I clearly understand both sides of the picture when it comes to the beginning of school. It can be complicated, overwhelming, stressful, and yet exciting. The emotions are much more intense for kids with Autism. But the stress of having to face the social norms and functioning once again with peers can be daunting. I would even go as far to say that most higher functioning children with Autism stress more about the socialization aspect of school then other areas, though they may not always realize it or be able to express it.

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Here are some simple tips and reminders to help families and teachers prepare the darlings for going back to school:

  • Remind them weeks and days ahead of time when the first day of school is.
  • Go visit the school and the new teacher and classroom before the first day of school.advocate2
  • Email the new teacher a few days before going back to school. Allow your child to ask some questions, share some concerns, etc.
  • Spend some time playing on the playground before going back to school. This will allow time for your child to relax a bit and readjust back into school.explaining5
  • When you visit the classroom, take pictures of your child sitting in the new desk, with the new teacher, etc. This way you can help prepare your child for going back to school by looking at the pictures and talking about them once you go back home.
  • Read books about going back to school. Write social stories about going back to school. Ask the teacher for a daily schedule ahead of time so you can begin to process it with your child.
  • Find some students in the class that you might recognize or know from previous years that you know has been helpful and positive for your child. Let the teacher know who they are. Also, do not hesitate to express concern over any student who you know can be a trigger for your child.
  • Parents, consider writing a letter to the teacher, explaining who your child is and the “dos and don’ts”.
  • Teachers, consider writing a letter to the student (and family) telling who you are, things you like to do, etc. Make the family feel welcome to your classroom.
  • One of my all-time favorite ideas is to have the teacher within the first few days of school talk to the class about Autism. I usually suggest doing this while your child is out of the room, maybe for speech or something. The teacher can explain briefly what Autism is, how it affects people, and what we can do to help people that have it. If you are comfortable with it, allow the teacher to even tell the students your child has Autism. When I have done this for my son, the school year has been MUCH better socially! The students accept him and understand why he acts the way he does. They go out of their way to help him and understand when they need to back off from him to give him space. It truly makes all the difference in a school year. If your child is old enough, consider having him/her talk to the class about it, or even yourself! If you are the teacher reading this, approach the parents and ask about it. I have done this before and usually get a positive response from parents. Again, I have seen students go from feeling irritated and annoyed with the student, to complete empathy and understanding towards the student.

TEACHERS: Remember these parents are exhausted and very busy! Just like you! So they may not respond quickly to emails or phone calls. Be patient with them and understanding of their situation. We want what is best for our child, but often we need to process it. I sometimes think families that have members with any disability is a culture all of its own. Often teachers struggle to make connections with these families; I think this is likely why. Sometimes just asking the family how you can continue to help and support them makes them feel more appreciated and loved. Continue doing the best you can, get support from teammates, and love on that student!

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Feel free to ask any questions you might have about going back to school. Tis the season! And Good Luck!

Jen Edwards, LMHCA

Counselor and Behavior Therapist

jen@BeautifulAutism.com

Autism: Going to Bed Alone

Autism: Going to Bed Alone

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I recently heard somewhere at a training I went to that nearly 80% of individuals with Autism struggle with sleep in some capacity. I feel the parents of my client’s pain when the walk into my office looking like they only got a few hours of sleep the night before, as likely I also only got that much in my home! One common complaint I often hear is the child will not sleep in his/her own bed. I smile and nod, knowing all too well how the scenario looks each evening.

It is 8:00, the hour you dread because you know the fight is coming, and yet your body aches and screams for it because it is exhausted and needs sleep. You get your child ready for bed… teeth are brushed, pajamas are on, story is read. Then the whining and crying begins, all because they do not want to be alone, or they cannot go to sleep without touching some other person. At 11:00 you and the child are still awake, it feels like a nightmare, and you finally give in and just snuggle up to your child for some attempt at a few good hours of sleep, only to be kicked throughout the night and woken at 5:00 to the happy smile of your child ready for the bright day ahead.

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Yep, this is our story too. There are some nights that are successful for our son to go to bed alone. But this is a battle that even at 8 years old we still have to fight. Here are some thoughts we have learned over the years and some that clients have tried with success!

  • Ask your child’s doctor about using something to help your child fall asleep, such as Melatonin. This is a simple, inexpensive over the counter natural product you can find at any pharmacy.
  • Sleep with the bedroom doors open throughout the house until your child relaxes enough to sleep through the night.
  • Try creating a “brave shelf” in the bedroom. Put things on it that help give confidence to your child, such as superheroes, awards, treats, favorite toys, pictures, etc.
  • Let your child have toys, blankets, books, or anything else to help keep him/her in bed. If he/she ends up playing for a while, consider this better to the alternative! If you need to put the child to bed earlier because of the playing, then do so.Are-your-kids-going-to-bed-too-late
  • Practice going to bed throughout the day. Use a social story, pictures, etc. to help the child understand what is going to happen.
  • If your child is currently sleeping in your bed, take baby steps back to his/her bed. It might look something like sleeping on the floor for a few nights, then moving into the hallway, then further down the hallway, and finally into the bedroom.
  • If your child is struggling because he/she needs to touch someone, try having him/her sleep in a small sleeping bag under a quilt. This will give the impression of feeling secure.
  • Give rewards for any accomplishment, but be careful to not overdo the awards. For example, if your child sleeps all night in the bedroom alone, give a reward such as a treat or an extra privilege. But then the expectation is now set higher, so to earn another reward he/she might need to sleep a whole week alone.
  • Find appropriate times to work on this skill. Working on this when school begins might not be the best option. Working on it during the summer or school break is a better option.
  • Try having a pet sleep with him/her.pet
  • Have your child sleep with a weighted blanket; this has proven very successful. In the summer months, use a fan to help with staying cool.
  • Some families have had success with having white noise in the room. This can be a fan, noise machines (you can find these reasonably priced on Amazon), or music.

Going to bed alone is tough on little guys, especially with Autism. But I encourage you to fight the battle and stay strong. Find the supports you need and pounce on any encouragement you find!

Jen Edwards, LMHCA

jen@BeautifulAutism.com

425-387-3872

Experts: I am the Best Expert on my Child; Teachers and Therapists are Experts for Their Field

Experts: I am the Best Expert on my Child; Teachers and Therapists are Experts for Their Field

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As parents we know our child best. We know their needs, wants, and desires. We see them through their best times and their worst times for more than eighteen years, then we send them on their way to college or work… usually. But in the meantime, we raise them the best way we know how. And we often say we know our child best because we are their parents… we are the experts.

We hear advice constantly from teachers and many of us hear advice from therapists on ways to help our child. At times we take their advice, many times we seek their advice and wisdom, and at times we look at them and think to ourselves, really? But I want to encourage all you parents out there with this thought: You are the best expert on your child and the teacher/therapists are the experts in their field.

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I look at my son with his Autism diagnosis. There have been times when therapist or doctors have recommended things to us and quite frankly my thoughts were there is no way that is going to work for our family. Something people outside of our family needs to remember is that Autism, like many other diagnosis, occurs within a family context, not just with my son (See Autism Occurs Within the Context of a Family). Changing something for my son means changing something for the family. I remind myself the person who just gave that recommendation is the expert in his or her field of study, but I am the expert on my son and the needs of our family.

Does this mean I turn down advice from people, or never go looking for outside help? Goodness no! That would go against all I believe in. It truly takes a village to raise any child, especially one with special needs! But I am always having to remind myself that I am the expert on my child. I often feel down or frustrated that I cannot seem to be doing right by my son. Or I get weary when things just are not going well. Or my particular favorite, when everyone around me wants to put in their advice on raising a child with special needs. But I am the expert on my child, not the speech therapist, not the doctor, not the teacher, not the counselor. I know my child best, I know his needs, I know his wants, I know his cries.

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I have seen many families feel pressured into doing things and changing their entire way of life because teachers, therapists, or doctors have told them to, and the parents did not feel it was the best choice for their family. I plead with you parents to think hard about your choices and ask if this is the best choice for your child. Find out if other families have done that change and if has helped them as well. You are the expert on your child!

So as you sit at the next IEP meeting for your child, remember that it is you that is the expert there. You are the best advocate for your child. Everyone else there is the expert in their field. Speak up for what your child needs. If you get push back, remember there is a reason behind it, which might be reasonable or not. But if you feel that your child needs it, continue to advocate for it. You only have one shot at raising your kid, might as well be the best expert at it now!

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Autism: Who is Your Support

Autism: Who is Your Support?
I know it is important to have someone to talk to, but they just don’t get it. (You are right, they often do not.) When I complain too much, they tend to get irritated. (Yeah, point taken.) Is there really a point in having someone to talk to? I mean, it doesn’t change the situation. (Well, yes. Everyone needs to vent- otherwise you blow up at your kid… how has that been going for you recently?)
I spoke at a support group for parents recently where I heard these reasons for not talking with someone about their frustrations and problems. We all need an outlet- someone to talk with and simply vent to. I encourage people to have someone besides your spouse, as he or she is also living this daily and having that outside support is helpful.

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Who is a Support?
Not just anyone can be a support for this type of situation. And yes, this is where it can get tough. You need to find someone that is encouraging yet who will not immediately offer up advice, because often that is not what we need; we simply need someone to listen to us (and take pity!). Here is what I suggest to look for in finding your support:

  • A strong listener
  • A strong supporter
  • Someone available most of the time, or who can make time for you
  • Someone who understands the basics of Autism
  • A friend that knows YOU
  • An encourager of your faith
  • Someone that will not always offer advice unless you ask for it
  • Above all, someone that LOVES your kiddo!

Are you laughing right now as you read through that list? Hopefully you can come up with at least one person that can mostly fit this description.

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It took me a while to find someone I can open up to safely (outside of my family). Actually it took me a couple of years. I now have certain friends I can rely on and trust to go to when I need to vent, cry, or relax. These friends know what I need and simply listen. But they also call me out when I am being ridiculous and are not afraid to ask questions. Do they always “get it”? Not always. And at times do I walk away more frustrated? Sure, sometimes. But more often than not, it helps.
Emotional, Spiritual, and Physical Health
Having a support system is important for your overall health. Without it certain failure to your health will inevitably happen. Most often, your mental health will begin to suffer. So often I see parents coming in with severe depression and high anxiety. One of the first things I ask them is, “Who is your support system?” They often give me a blank stare. As time goes on, their physical health suffers with high blood pressure and stress, which leads to heart problems, headaches, etc. I will then ask them, “When was the last time you went to the doctor for yourself?” Again the blank stare. Then the killer… “When was the last time you did someone for yourself, such as a trip or spa?” By now they often laugh or cry.

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When was the Last Time you did something for YOURSELF?
Parents, you need a break! You need a support! Ladies and Gentlemen, I am preaching to myself here as I write this. I cannot remember the last time I went on a date with my husband. Though I will admit, I did get my hair done about a month ago (such a pleasure!).
And yes, you can do things that cost little or no money. And see, this is where your lovely support comes in! Get him/her to babysit (if you need one), then go back home and sleep, watch a movie, read a book, etc. Just do not clean the house or pay bills.

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Final Thoughts
Maybe you are to the point where your kids are gone and you are able to be a support to someone. GREAT! Do it! Find a parent support group or someone in your church that needs to be supported.
If you are struggling and have nobody to help you out, I encourage you to find a parent support group; most are free. Or ask your child’s special education teachers; they may know of some resources.
Keep pushing forward and stay strong. If you have thoughts or questions, email or contact me!
Jen Edwards
720-258-6392
jen@voyagescounseling.com

I am a Parent of a Child with Autism, and I am STRESSED!

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I am a Parent of a Child with Autism, and I am STRESSED!

                Any parent of any kid is stressed.  You wake up early, get them going for school while you get yourself ready for work.  Then you run them around to sports and doctor appointments after school.  Finally you come home and get dinner going while you juggle homework and chores.  You finally collapse into bed after they are asleep and start over again in the morning.

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                Having a kid on the spectrum you never know how your days are going to go.  You keep your phone nearby in anticipation of the school calling you because of a meltdown and you need to go pick up your child.  You get emails from all the different teachers and support staff on a daily basis and you take a deep breath before you open it because likely it is not good news.  It is like you wait for the bomb to drop all the time.

                Then you have all the therapy sessions and doctor appointments.  You do not get to go to sporting events and practices; you go to therapy, where the therapists purposefully put your child into meltdown mode on occasion to help them process how to get through the meltdown.  Lovely.  Nothing gets accomplished after those sessions.

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                And if you get assistance from the government, you fight them constantly to keep services such as health insurance and SSI.  Your case workers do not call you back and you sit in the government offices for hours waiting to talk to someone who has no idea who you are or how to help you.  It is a frustrating process but a necessary one.

The Stress is just TOO MUCH!

                Ever feel like the stress is simply too much?  You just want to go away and hide?  You are not alone my dear friends!

                If you read my previous post, you know the stress has been high for us recently.  We are in the midst of lots of meltdowns and behavior issues with our son and it is stressful.  There are so many people involved in his life that it can get overwhelming to us with who is doing what with him.  It is almost like there are too many people in the picture!  But all are necessary.

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                And of course stress at home causes stress on our son.  He can pick up on our stress.  So when our car breaks down, and the bills pile up, and then the cell phone breaks all in the same week, our stress gets high.  Even though we try our best to hide the stress, he picks up on it.  Because he cannot process stress and then cannot handle it, he in turns acts out with his behavior and it can cause meltdowns.  It is a vicious cycle.

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How can I Handle the Stress?

                Easier said than done.  But here are a few thoughts and ideas.

  • ·         Process anything that you can with your child.  Explain what stress is and explain things that are going on so they understand.  Do not hide things from them, be open and honest.  Just use appropriate words for their age and processing ability.
  • ·         Take time for yourself.  Have dates with your spouse.  Have time alone for you.  You will probably need to plan ahead for this, but it is important to do!
  • ·         Do your best to prepare them for any change that is coming.  For example, if it is threatening to show, I always tell my son the day before.
  • ·         Find that trusting person you can talk to.  It can be a good friend, family member, or counselor.  A spouse is great too, but having someone not emotionally involved is important too!
  • ·         Take your deep breaths during the meltdowns and challenging moments.  Tag-team with your spouse (if possible) and give each other breaks.  Support each other during this time and then discuss afterwards what could have been done differently and/or better.
  • ·         Drink ice-cold water when you feel stressed- it really helps!  Get exercise, take a walk.  Do yoga or something calming.

·         Above all, do something healthy to relieve stress.  Drinking excessive alcohol and using drugs is not the best option to help relieve stress.  In the long run it will make things worse.

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Final Thoughts

                Stress is not easy to process through.  It can stay with you for days and weeks.  It can build up and eventually burst; causing problems that can be serious.  When you need help, get help!!

                Having a kid on the spectrum, or any special need, is a challenge.  I commend you for fighting through it and doing your best!  Take time for yourself, stay calm, and get the help you need.  Any parent needs help raising a child.  Raising a special needs child is going to take extra help.  Getting help does not mean you are not an adequate parent, it means you are helping your child.

                Let me know if you need help with your own emotional needs.  Many of my clients are children with special needs, but often the parents come in on their own and have their own sessions too!

                Keep up the great work!

Jen Edwards

jen@voyagescounseling.com

720-258-6392

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Autism: From a Mama’s Heart

Autism: From a Mama’s Heart

                I have come very close to tears many times this week.  It has just been one of those weeks.  The stress is high, the meltdowns are awful, and it feels like we have taken many steps back instead of forward.

 I sit here writing this, looking over at my son playing with his Legos, and my heart swells with pride- for he is my son and no matter what I love him unconditionally.  It is just the Autism I remind myself.  When I look at his face and I do not see the sparkle in his eyes, but rather the intense emotion of confusion and deregulation, my heart breaks.  It is just the Autism I remind myself again.  The Autism is the surface.  His humor and his beautiful personality make him my special Bug that I brought home six years ago last week, with big blue eyes and an oversized pacifier that made his face look like a bug.

I wake up in the morning and I do not want to get out of bed in fear of the Autism.  My anxiety rises as I think about what the morning will bring.  My slumber has brought me restoration that I needed.  But now I face the unknown.  I sing the song in my head from The Sound of Music when Maria sings, “What will this day be like; I wonder…” and I wait in anticipation for my son to awaken and answer my pondering thoughts.  I take my deep breaths as I hear him get out of bed; I prepare myself for the unknown… and here it comes!  The full force of six year old terror and laughter.

And then there are the times when it is calm.  The meltdowns are silent and the Autism appears dormant for a short time.  He looks at us in the eye and smiles.  He asks us questions about our day and laughs at our jokes.  He lets us hold him and play loud music as we dance.  But suddenly as quickly as it came, it leaves us once again.  The sparkles in his eyes are gone and we walk on egg shells once again.

We are blessed to get support in many ways from many different people and groups.  Our extended family is our number one fan; they have always been there for us and continue to pray daily for us and our needs.  Our friends and church are here for our immediate needs since they are nearby and they offer a shoulder to cry on when we need it (or often a Starbucks run or something stronger if needed!).  We get support from teachers and therapists for his unique needs.  They offer advice and great education.  And our wonderful government helps us with needs for his disability (you probably cannot pick up on the sarcasm but if you know me well enough you can hear the sarcasm here).

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We use laughter to get through the stress.  When our son gets in trouble at school for humming the theme song to Star Wars while doing his work after he has been told to stay quiet, we talk to him; then we go to our room and laugh.  Laughter gets us through just about anything.  Often there are tears with the laughter; it is a rather obnoxious mix of emotions.  When it is all said and done, it feels good and relieves the stress.

My Awful Day

                Last week was tough.  But one particular day was awful.  It was Valentine’s day, one of the best days of the year.  However, everything went wrong.  I made a special Valentine breakfast; he did not eat it.  I said I would take him to school so he would not have to ride the bus; that was not exciting to him.  Then it was time to get dressed and he snapped.  I saw the anger in his eyes blaze and his ears turn bright red.  His face got flushed and his body became rigid.  The battle was on.

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                It was a battle that lasted over an hour.  There was lots of screaming from my son and things flying through the air that should not have been flying.  He managed to get himself cornered in my closet where clothes were being thrown and pulled down.  Mean words were directed at me and had he been a bit stronger, I am sure bruising would have taken place on myself.

                I felt out of control!  I wanted to scream, yell, and throw myself down on the floor, just as he was doing.  I wanted to simply leave the house and run away.  I wanted to grab him, put clothes on him, put him in the car, take him to school, and then speed away in my car without looking back.  Tears stung my eyes and my anxiety was high as I was thinking how I was going to handle this situation that was quickly spiraling out of control.  There was no safe place for me to go as he would chase after me and kick on the door to the room I went into.

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                I finally convinced him to get into the shower to help calm himself down, and thank goodness it worked.  It also gave me a few minutes to calm myself down and drink some ice-cold water (I may have snuck in some chocolate too).  I got him out of the shower, calm and quiet, and ready to get dressed.  Another meltdown ensued with getting dressed, but I held to my guns.  Afterwards I told him to wrestle with the oversized bear he has, which seemed to help.  He then found some small cloth and I gave him ice-cold water.  He sat down with the cloth, rubbed it on his face while drinking the water.  After three minutes he announced he was calm and ready for school.  He walked over, put on his shoes, grabbed his backpack, and put himself in the car.  I sat there, stunned, then finally grabbed my stuff and headed to the car.

                My body ached and I had a migraine beginning.  By the time I got him to school, we had discussed how much I loved him and he let me sing our special song to him.  Ironically, he ended up having a perfect day at school… go figure.

                I spent the day doing a lot of reflecting and processing.  Then I went and got my hair done, a special treat!  It was an awful morning, a challenging morning, and one I never want to repeat.  But I love him, more than ever!!

Final Thoughts

                I am a mama with a son who has Autism.  My son has Autism; Autism does not have my son.  We teach him how to control his body the best we can.  He just simply has his challenges that he has to work through.  Life will be tough and challenging for him.  He will have many obstacles to overcome.  So we stand by him and support him.

                People always ask me if it is hard to work with kids on the spectrum all day and then go home to my son.  I reply that it is not any more challenging for me than anyone else, but I am certainly tired by 8pm!  People also comment that they do not know how I do all these things or they do not know how they could handle their child being Autistic.  My answer is simple: God does not call the qualified; he qualifies the called!  I am called to be his mama, and I LOVE IT!

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Cute vs. Socially Awkward

Cute vs. Socially Awkward

                “Oh he is so cute!”  We hear this often from people.  We simply smile and keep our thoughts to ourselves.  Our thoughts range from yeah we need to talk to him about that later or umm it is not really cute, it is rather inappropriate for his age.  He is only five, so yeah, some of it is rather cute or even funny, but in six months, one year, five years, is it still going to be cute or simply that ugly word awkward.

                A few months ago I took my son to the park.  Other children were playing and he wanted to be included but had no idea how to include himself appropriately other than demanding they all play by his rules when they already had a game going.  Later on he preceded to throw wood chips at a girl about his age.  He found this hilarious, she did not.  I got a nasty look from her mother; not surprising.  I finally caught my son and explained to him the rudeness of the situation, to which he laughed and said it was so funny!  He did not get it, and even to this day, he does not get it.  The girl eventually left the park; I felt bad and tried explaining to the mother my son has Autism.  She did not care and did not want to listen.  Such is the life of a parent with a kid on the spectrum.

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                When I have shared this story with others, I usually get a chuckle and some remark similar to, “That is a typical boy for you.”  Yes, true, that is a typical obnoxious boy, but at five he should be able to understand when I explain he needs to stop because she does not like things being thrown at her.  But instead he keeps throwing them and it is clear that he is doing it to because he thinks he is playing a game with her, when she clearly does not like it.  He is not doing it to be an obnoxious boy; he is doing it because he thinks it is a game that she is fully engaged in as well.  Socially awkward.

Is it Cute or Awkward?

                I laugh when I try to answer this because really there is no set criteria for cute vs. awkward; however there is a general standard of what is appropriate depending on age.  For example, my five year old making strange noises with his mouth may be a typical five year old trait, especially for boys, but let’s face it, this is not appropriate in certain situations such as church or classroom during instruction time.  A five year old should be able to begin deciphering between when it is appropriate to make noises and when it is not.  My son does not have that deciphering skill; he is not even close to obtaining it.

                I suppose it really depends on what is more socially acceptable in our culture.  Based on these general values, we try hard to teach our son what is appropriate and what is not.  And of course being on the spectrum things need to be logical for his mind to comprehend things, so when he asks me why it is not appropriate, I need a logical answer… and let’s face it, often there is not a logical answer except that it seems weird.

Explaining Social Awkwardness

                Like I said above, good luck explaining social awkwardness to a kid on the spectrum.  Some kids are able to get it and understand the grey area concept, but many are not capable of grasping this idea.  This is mostly due to the aspect that they are socially unaware of what is going on around them.  They are only capable of processing one thing at a time, so social cues and concepts generally get totally missed.

                We have tried using social cues or nonverbal signs for our son, and it is rather humorous because he either completely misses it, while looking right at us while we are doing the nonverbal sign, or he stops and asks us, loud enough for everyone to hear, “Why are you shaking your head like that?”  Totally awkward at the moment, but often funny when you look back at it later on.  But I admit, it is becoming less and less funny and more frustrating.

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                We do our best to catch the awkward moment in action and pull our son aside to explain to him that inappropriateness of the situation.  Generally he is too busy and focused on his own task to hear us, it often feels pointless.  We try to discuss it later on, but he usually does not remember the situation and gets rather confused.  But we will keep discussing it and hopefully he will eventually begin to understand.

                Often social skills groups or therapists will use social cards to teach these skills.  Again, this can be a bit difficult because it is not really concrete enough for them, but it helps and gets ideas flowing in them.  Here are some resources I found:

http://endlesspotentialinfo.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/social-skills-cue-cards/

http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/resources/strategies.html

http://www.setbc.org/pictureset/resource.aspx?id=322

http://www.incredibleyears.com/program/child.asp

                I encourage you as parents to continually work on these skills with your child.  Also, have therapists and teachers work on these skills as well.  It can be easily incorporated into therapy.  This is something I do with my young clients who are on the spectrum (and even my adult clients) to help them learn social skills.

Final Words and Thoughts

                My husband and I often feel anxious about our son’s future.  My main worry is will he be able to fit in well enough with his peers so that he is not teased constantly?  Even if he does not always pick up the teasing by others, eventually he will begin to realize the situation and then depression and other issues can begin to set in.  I can imagine many of you are reading this and going through this very struggle right now.  My heart goes out to each and every one of you.   I can feel your pain and despair.  I get it.

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                So my friends, continue to teach your child and be patient with them.  Love them and pray for them.  Get the help they need and the help you need.  You are your child’s greatest teacher, though sometimes I question if my son even listens to me.  If you need help, contact me.  Otherwise good luck and keep pressing on!

jen@voyagescounseling.com

720-258-6392